When your global bestseller is due to be revamped designers and engineers face a daunting task.
They have to improve the product without losing all the things that have made it popular in the first place.
The team at Mazda have managed that task by building on the success of their outgoing CX-5 - a car that introduced their SKYACTIV technology and KODO soul of motion design philosophy.
The result is a new CX-5 that looks better, offers more technology and boasts a cabin that can compete with anything in the premium sector.
Designed under the concept of ‘refined toughness’ the new range starts at just £23,695 for the 2.0-litre front wheel drive petrol version and rises to £31,395 for the flagship 2.2-litre Sport Nav all-wheel-drive version with 175PS.
This means that the CX-5 costs about £1,000 more across the range but you get lots more for your cash and compared to the premium brands the CX-5 remains excellent value for money.
Mazda has improved the SUVs already great looks by adding a sharp new front end which features a jutting nose, enlarged grille and larger badge. New slimmer headlights and a longer bonnet make it sleeker than before and new tail lights adorn the handsome rump.
A new roof line makes it lower than the outgoing model and although the width and wheelbase are identical the smoother panel surfaces give the CX-5 a sleeker look.
Surprisingly the new car bucks the current trend by adding around 50kg of weight, the result of new insulation and vibration deadening features which combine to make the CX-5 much quieter than before with road, wind and engine noise all being reduced.
Step inside the completely re-designed cabin and you will find things are familiar but hugely improved. A new updated seveninch touchscreen which can also be operated with a rotary control now sits on top of the dash and the materials are all soft-touch and of good quality.
Equipment levels are strong even on base SE-L models, and the Sport Nav car I drove comes with 19-inch alloys, heated electric leather seats, a sunroof, an electric tailgate, keyless entry and a Bose ten speaker sound system. There’s also a heads-up display, front and rear parking sensors and heated steering wheel, meaning the CX-5 gets more kit than most of its rivals. The spacious cabin offers room for five adults and the 506-litre boot is three litres bigger than before but this can be increased to 1,620 litres by folding the rear seats. The three power plants have been carried over with some minor improvements and I drove away the 2.2-litre diesel with the larger 175PS output, manual gearbox and allwheel drive. Performance is as strong as ever and the slick six-speed manual gearbox makes it feel as if you are driving a nippy hatchback. You reach 62mph in just 9.0 seconds with a top speed of 129mph and there is bags of grunt for overtaking. The claimed combined figure is 52.3mpg with emissions of 142g/km.
The new CX-5 provides a good driving experience with little fuss. It copes with all road surfaces and the suspension deals with any road imperfections. It munches motorway miles with ease and for a large SUV it deals well with the twisty stuff.
The steering is nicely weighted and there is surprisingly little roll on tight corners and the newcomer features Mazda’s G-Vectoring system to make it more agile.
As you would expect the new CX-5 is also crammed with all the latest safety technology to help keep you and your family safe.
I had the unique experience of driving the first generation model to Inverness where I collected the second generation model and was instantly able to appreciate the many improvements made to an already excellent product.
Heading back the next day from the Aberdeen area in truly atrocious weather conditions I was thankful for the limpet-like grip provided by the all-wheel drive system in rain formerly only experienced in the tropics.
This newcomer is certainly an improvement over its predecessor thanks to its sharp design, higher quality interior and fine handling.
It is one of the best family SUVs on sale and is a great all-rounder and competitively priced.
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